The latest addition to our £1.2M Train Story Visitor Centre is a former Ryde Pier tram, which has been generously donated by the Isle of Wight Council to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
This interesting little vehicle was built in 1911 by Messrs Pollard & Sons, carriage and motor car builders, of Hill Street, Ryde, and utilising an underframe from an earlier Starbuck-built tramcar, fitted with electric motors and placed on the east track of the pier tramway where it ran with another locally built car, No.4, the celebrated ‘Grapes’ car so known because of the carved decoration on the corner pillars.
In 1927 the tramway electrical equipment was life expired and the motor car was withdrawn and taken to Newport. The underframe was scrapped but the body sold off, ending its days at Grange Farm, Brighstone. In 1978 the body was offered for sale by auction; the Isle of Wight Steam Railway considered bidding, but funds were extremely limited and storage space at a premium. Mr. Bernard Pratt, a senior lecturer at the Isle of Wight College and a supporter of the Steam Railway, who was also a County Councillor, purchased the body for £2 and arranged for it to be taken to the IW College, where it was restored under a Manpower Services Commission Youth Training scheme. When completed, it was put on display at the Council’s Cothy Bottom Heritage Centre, later moving to the Isle of Wight Bus Museum on Newport Quay. In 2011 it returned to Cothy Bottom and was stored out of public view until moving to Haven Street on 13th March 2017.
Interestingly, the ‘Grapes’ car was also preserved when withdrawn in 1935, being taken to Hull and where it is currently on display in the Streetlife Museum.